We strongly support the proposed measure seeking a P750 across-the-board and nationwide wage increase filed at the House of Representatives earlier this week. As a broad network of women workers organizations, we believe that it is the duty of the state to ensure that workers enjoy their constitutional right to security of tenure, humane working conditions and a living wage.
The appeal for a wage increase is entirely reasonable. The current minimum wage can no longer keep pace with the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities and uncontrollable inflation, which has been pegged at 8.7 percent last February. In fact, real wages during the same period were 14.4 percent to 21.1 percent lower than the current daily minimum wages across the regions in the country, according to the data released by the National Wage and Productivity Commission and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). At the same time, wages remain low despite the rising labor productivity recorded in recent years.
Data from the Ibon Foundation further show that a family would need around P842 to P1,944 so that they can meet their daily needs and have the capacity to achieve a decent and dignified life. These figures are very far from what the minimum wage earners receive today. Alarmingly, it is women who carry the heaviest brunt of low wages and increasing cost of living because of the persisting challenge of gender wage disparity in the country.
Thus, it is important to highlight that raising the minimum wage which reflects the cost of living will not only reduce poverty rate among women but it will also promote gender equality which is an important key to development. By raising the minimum wage, women workers will have an increased capacity to provide for their specific needs including access to reproductive health care which is often sacrificed or set aside especially in times when wage is low.
Contrary to claims made by business groups that the proposed measure is detrimental to the economy, we stand firm that wage increase is necessary for the country to recover from the global pandemic and recession. Raising wages will boost the entire economy as it will also increase consumer purchasing with workers spending on local business, resulting in new job opportunities.
Along with our demand for P750 across-the-board and nationwide wage increase, we also demand for the urgent passage of bills pushing for the revival of the National Minimum Wage that will make the wages in the provinces similar to the wages received by workers in the National Capital Region.
Thus, we call on Filipino women workers to strongly support these demands and call on the Marcos administration to prioritize the concerns and interests of Filipino workers for higher wages, better working conditions and other employment rights, especially of women workers.
The Women Workers United (WWU) is the broadest formation of women workers and unionists from the major labor federations and women’s organizations in the country including, among others, the Federation of Free Workers, Kilusan ng Manggagawang Kababaihan, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Partido Manggagawa, Public Services Labor Independent Confederation and Gabriela. WWU is composed of women workers from the private and public sectors, and from the formal and informal economy.
March 22, 2023
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